COMPANY: The Asylum
RUNTIME: 90 mins
PLOT: After surviving the titan battle at the end of the first movie, the Megalodon is back and wrecking havoc in the ocean once again, but soon finds itself locked in battle with a new gargantuan foe.
REVIEW: Right off the bat, Mega Shark vs Crocosaurus starts on a slightly disappointing note. The end of the first movie set the stage for a sequel pretty well, but instead this movie decided to ignore that and go it's own route. Due to that, it lacks any returning characters from the first which means Lorenzo Lamas and Debbie Gibson, two of the better aspects of the first movie, are nowhere to be found and no explanation given as to their absence, which is weird considering their heavy involvement in the Mega Shark situation of the first movie. You'd think they would have been called back to action again here when the creature reappears.
In their place however is Jaleel White of Family Matters fame (Steve Urkel) and he plays a navy soldier on a U.S. battleship, having supposedly participated (off-screen) in the events of the first movie. He's some kind of shark expert and holds the conspiracy theory that the Megalodon is still alive and roaming the sea due to no carcass ever being recovered. When the beast proves him right by attacking the vessel he's currently serving on, his military girlfriend is killed and that makes everything personal for him from that point on. Much like Debbie Gibson in the first movie, he does as good as he can with what he's given to work with and comes out in top form, especially during a surprisingly emotional scene towards the end that he handled with perfection. Actually, most of the new main cast are all bright spots here, sticking out far above the main cast of the first movie. Joining Urkel, we get a John Roxton-style great white jungle hunter that's hired by a mining company to hunt down the newly-awakened Crocosaurus and this actor that plays that role, Gary Stretch, just completely steals every single scene he's in (which is almost all of them). Without a doubt, he's not only the best actor in the movie, but the most entertaining character to watch as well, though you have to wonder if the actor was drunk while filming some of these scenes because once in while he's hard to understand due to very slurred speech, and not just in the scenes where it shows him to be drinking. We also have a hard-as-nails female Government agent that links the two plots together as she hires both Gary Stretch and Urkel (each one an expert on one of the animals) to work together with herself for the U.S. Government in order to stop both monsters. What makes this group of ragtag experts even better and more realistic is that unlike the first movie, these guys aren’t friends and they don't always get along or see eye-to-eye which creates some very good tension and some entertaining scenes to pass away the time between animal attacks. Finally, we have Robert Ricardo from Star Trek Voyager playing the same basic role that Lorenzo Lamas did in the first movie; that is to say all he had to do was stand around in a control room and threateningly bark orders at everyone while every once in a while firing off a sarcastic wise crack. Not a whole lot to do, but he handled the role very well and dare I say, far better then Lorenzo Lamas did in the first movie. Right from the beginning, you can get behind these new characters and if we must leave out the characters from the first movie, these are damn good replacements. Actually, sorry to say, but I ended up liking all of these characters far more then the ones in the first movie.
But where this movie did better with the characters, it failed with the title creatures. The special effects for the Megalodon are of a far lesser quality then they were in the first movie, and the Crocosaurus just looks plain bad and kind of unfinished, coming across as if they ran out of time while creating it. Granted, there was one or two scenes were it did look pretty good, but they don't stand out in the memory much since every other scene of the animal looks really bad. Where we got an explanation in the first movie to the creatures being alive, however loose and unrealistic, no such explanation is given here for the gigantic prehistoric crocodile; the only explanation we get is that it was in an eon's-long slumber deep under the ground in the Congo jungle, when an illegal diamond mining operation accidentally wakes it up, with no explanation as to why it was asleep for so long nor how it could still be alive after being asleep for so long.
After my initial disappointment at seeing how crappy the effects were in this entry, and the fact that the introduction scenes of each creature were pretty lame, I pretty much lost all faith in future action scenes involving these creatures and was quite worried about my enjoyment in the movie. So it was then quite surprising to me that all the action scenes after the first 10 minutes were actually really well done and exciting. We don't get anything quite as memorable as some of the iconic cheese-fest scenes in the first movie, but we do get some very fun stuff all the same that works out to be bigger and better then most of the ones in the first movie. Some of the highlights would include an attack on the famous theme park Sea World by the Crocosaurus as it rampages through Orlando, Florida, while the Mega Shark deals with an attack from a submarine in a very humorous and entertaining way that I won't spoil here, as well as a fight to the death involving both animals while an underwater volcano spectacularly goes off around them. There were even a few action sequences, more-so towards the end, that almost seemed like they were inspired by some Michael Bay movies which was interesting to see.
Accompanying the awesome, more-longer, action scenes in this sequel is also an enjoyable fast-paced musical score that helps raise the excitement and urgency and was something I'm only realizing now that the first movie was lacking. Sure, that movie may have had generic action music, but it was boring and wasn't really noticeable. In this movie it's not only noticeable, but really adds to the action scenes, helping to elevate them above the action scenes of the first flick.
The script for this entry also seemed to be more competently-written, giving the characters actual real dialog to work with and creating a realistic and intelligent way of bringing the two creatures together for the promised water-based duel (which we actually get a few separate matches of this time). You see, after Gary Stretch manages to tranquilize the Crocosaurus in the jungle, he tries to transport her and her newly-laid eggs to the States, but while en-route over the ocean, the Mega Shark attacks the boat, only to have the Crocosaurus wake up and break free in order to fight the Mega Shark to protect her eggs. Things just proceed to get more and more out of control from there. While it may not be the best plot point ever, it's certainly better then the bullshit explanation we got in the first movie of 'They were programmed on a genetic level to hate each other and always fight when near one another'. Even the build-up to the climatic showdown in the back half of the movie was handled so much better then it was in the first movie. Not only was the main fight longer and more intense then the one in the first, but there were some nice little twists and surprises sprinkled throughout that I'm not going to spoil here that upped the ante, as well as being just an all around more action-packed fight.
After all is said and done, despite a few short comings with the special effects, this can be put down in the books as one of the rare cases of a sequel being better then the first, and it's now among my list of all-time personal favorite Asylum flicks. I find it surprising that the first got a nice BluRay treatment while this one was regulated to DVD-Only. Likewise, it also blows my mind that this one's not as well known as the original, despite clearly being much better, and many who saw the original didn't even know this one existed. Then again, I'm still shocked at how many people rent or buy a movie like this and then get upset that they're not watching something they can compare to Gone with the Wind. Like really...what were you seriously expecting with a title like Mega this vs Giant Whatever?
I'm really hoping for a third movie, and if that ever comes to light, I'd like to see these characters return – or possibly even the characters from the first movie team up with the characters from this movie. There's a short hidden teaser scene if you sit through all of the end credits that does set up quite well for a third movie, although it is basically a carbon copy of a line at the end of the first movie so who knows if the Godzilla-inspired nod will actually have anything to do with the next entry. However, the original idea for this one was going to be Mega Shark vs Giganotosaurus with a poster even done up showing the Megalodon fighting a giant Godzilla/Tyrannosaurus creature, so I'd say it's a pretty safe bet that they're instead going to use that idea for the third movie and hopefully the line of dialog during that hidden teaser scene really was setting that up instead of just being a throw-away line like the similar one in the first movie.
Here's to a Mega Shark 3.
8/10 rooms in the Psych Ward
UPDATE: You can now hear me discuss this movie as a guest host on the Saturday B-Movie Reel podcast.